There are many ways to create a family and adoption of a child (or children) is one of them.
Whether you choose to adopt domestically or internationally there are a number of factors to consider including cost, paperwork, wait times and personal preference.
The length of the process generally ranges from 1 year to 18 months. One of the first steps is to have a preliminary home study completed. There are normally two home studies during the adoption process; a preliminary one prior to connecting with your child and a post-placement study conducted after you have brought your child home. The home study must be performed by a licensed social worker or the Florida Department of Children and Families.
The Home Study
The home study includes, but is not limited to, the personal and medical histories of the adoptive parent(s), a criminal background check, an abuse registry check, personal references and at least one in-home visit. Home studies generally are not required in stepparent or adoptions by relatives.
There are two types of agency adoptions. The first is a direct placement adoption whereby the agency locates the birthmother for you. The second is an identified agency adoption whereby the adoptive parents locate the birth mother and then proceed through an agency.
Independent Adoptions and Intermediaries
In an independent adoption, a child is identified without the use of a licensed child-placing agency or the Department of Children and Families (Childnet in Broward County). When proceeding with an independent adoption, Florida law does not allow a child to be placed directly from birthparent(s) to an adoptive parent(s) without the use of an intermediary. An intermediary is either a licensed attorney or physician.
IMPORTANT: An attorney CANNOT represent both the adoptive parent(s) and the birth parent(s).
The Intermediary must file with the court, prior to the birth, a statement regarding the terms of the placement, the financial reimbursements to be paid, if any, and whether the adoptive couple has been approved through a preliminary home study conducted by a licensed professional or child placing agency.
Generally speaking, most foreign adoptions are handled by agencies with ties to the country where you are looking to adopt. They will assist you with your paperwork, travel arrangements, as well as the in-country adoption process. However, once you return to the U.S. you should seriously consider re-adoption or domestication of the foreign adoption.
This is the process of securing a foreign adoption in a United States court. While the foreign adoption generally is valid in the United States, there are important reasons to consider re-adoption upon returning to the United States with your child.
One reason is that it ensures that your foreign adoption will be recognized under United States laws. Another reason is that the U.S. adoption will generate a state birth certificate that is written in English. This becomes important when your child is registering for school, sports activities etc. Some schools will not accept birth certificates in other languages. It also makes it easier to obtain duplicates of the child’s birth certificate if this ever becomes necessary. Many other countries do not keep sufficient records or require cutting through red tape if a copy of the birth certificate is ever needed.
When you adopt a child abroad, aside from finalizing the adoption, you have to obtain citizenship for your child. If a child adopted abroad enters the United States with an IR-3 visa that child is automatically a citizen when he/she arrives in the United States. The child’s Certificate of Citizenship is usually received within 45 days of arrival in the United States. However, if the child enters the United States on an IR-4 visa, with guardians bringing the child to the U.S., the child is not a citizen until the adoption is finalized in a United States Court.
Second parent and step-parent adoptions
Second parent adoptions have, until recently, been an option for same-sex couples, and still is if the couple doesn’t wed. This process allows a person to gain parental rights over the child of his or her same-sex partner without that partner losing his or her own parental rights.
However, now that same-sex couples are legally permitted to marry in Florida, many are considering stepparent adoptions. If you are considering this option and there is another biological parent in the picture, you must obtain their consent. In addition, they have to relinquish their parental rights by signing an Adoption Surrender. If the child you want to adopt is over the age of 12, they also must sign a consent.
No matter how desperate you are to have a child, don’t try to arrange for an adoption without the help of a licensed professional. Attorneys, adoption agencies, or those licensed by the state are the only ones authorized to handle adoptions. Trying to arrange for an adoption on your own can only lead to complications and possibly even heartbreak.
While choosing to adopt is a personal decision, a professional can help you to make the right legal decisions. As you can see there are a number of adoption options available. Barkus Law can assist you and we are here to make the path toward the creation of a family easier.
If you are interested in a consultation or have questions do not hesitate to contact Barkus Law. Simply click here and send us a message and we will get right back to you.